In a move that follows the game plan of newsrooms across the country, BU’s independent student-run newspaper, the Daily Free Press, will scale back production of the hard copy newspaper from four days a week to once a week, but continue to publish daily online. An announcement of the change, which came on May 5, the Freep’s 44th birthday, said the paper’s print edition will appear on Thursdays.
The new publishing schedule was approved earlier this week by the Free Press board of directors, which is comprised of former editors. Board chairman Alex Nawar (CAS’14, GRS’14) says in a press release that the change would allow staff to be “less preoccupied with the pressures and constraints of daily print publication” and give them “the opportunity to expend their time and energy on breaking news, investigative reporting, in-depth features, and vivid multimedia.” The publication’s website will be redesigned this summer, Nawar says, a move intended to increase revenue from online sources and give the paper the financial security needed to produce award-winning journalism for another 44 years.
In 2008, the Daily Free Press cut back the paper version’s publishing schedule to four days a week. It has since created the nonprofit Daily Free Press Alumni Association to form stronger connections with alumni.
The once-a-week Thursday Daily Free Press will be a 12-page comprehensive edition that will be distributed around campus. Nawar says the paper edition will also be redesigned, and it may be longer if there is a special story or extra content or advertisements.
A 2013 Pew Research Center report found that print advertising in newspapers fell 8.5 percent in 2012, the sixth consecutive year of diminished returns. It also found that digital advertising, which accounted for 15 percent of total newspaper ad revenue, was growing slowly and “does not come close to covering print ad losses.”
Nawar, who has been a news editor, an associate editor, and a city news writer at the Free Press, says he has confidence in the future of journalism. He points to the New York Times and the Boston Globe, both of which have had to reexamine their business models and now operate under new business models.
“This means more colorful and interactive online content, stories driven by data aggregation and analysis, and news experiences tailored specifically to readers’ interests,” Nawar says. “Rather than indicate journalism’s demise, these changes portend a promising future. We’re excited to pursue these trends and to continue to serve our readers in ways that appeal to them.”